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Subject: Graphics Cards | April 14, 2016 - 06:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, uwp, DirectX 12, dx12
At the PC Gaming Conference from last year's E3 Expo, Microsoft announced that they were looking to bring more first-party titles to Windows. They used to be one of the better PC gaming publishers, back in the Mechwarrior 4 and earlier Flight Simulator days, but they got distracted as Xbox 360 rose and Windows Vista fell.
Again, part of that is because they attempted to push users to Windows Vista and Games for Windows Live, holding back troubled titles like Halo 2: Vista and technologies like DirectX 10 from Windows XP, which drove users to Valve's then-small Steam platform. Epic Games was also a canary in the coalmine at that time, warning users that Microsoft was considering certification for Games for Windows Live, which threatened mod support “because Microsoft's afraid of what you might put into it”.
It's sometimes easy to conform history to fit a specific viewpoint, but it does sound... familiar.
Anyway, we're glad that Microsoft is bringing first-party content to the PC, and they are perfectly within their rights to structure it however they please. We are also within our rights to point out its flaws and ask for them to be corrected. Turns out that Quantum Break, like Gears of War before it, has some severe performance issues. Let's be clear, these will likely be fixed, and I'm glad that Microsoft didn't artificially delay the PC version to give the console an exclusive window. Also, had they delayed the PC version until it was fixed, we wouldn't have known whether it needed the time.
Still, the game apparently has issues with a 50 FPS top-end cap, on top of pacing-based stutters. One concern that I have is, because DigitalFoundry is a European publication, perhaps the 50Hz issue might be caused by their port being based on a PAL version of the game??? Despite suggesting it, I would be shocked if that were the case, but I'm just trying to figure out why anyone would create a ceiling at that specific interval. They are also seeing NVIDIA's graphics drivers frequently crash, which probably means that some areas of their DirectX 12 support are not quite what the game expects. Again, that is solvable by drivers.
It's been a shaky start for both DirectX 12 and the Windows 10 UWP platform. We'll need to keep waiting and see what happens going forward. I hope this doesn't discourage Microsoft too much, but also that they robustly fix the problems we're discussing.
Subject: Mobile | April 14, 2016 - 04:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vulkan, google, android n, Android
We knew it was coming. Google was a partner of Vulkan since it launched, but support was coming at some point after the desktop launch. We expected that it would be soon, but now we know that the new graphics API is in Android N Developer Preview 2. Other platforms, like apparently the Samsung Galaxy S7, are able to ship Vulkan drivers, but it is “a part of the platform” in this Android N pre-release.
Vulkan is particularly useful for mobile because those devices tend to have many cores, but relatively slow cores, which drive a decently fast GPU. Whether the benefits end up being higher performance or just better battery life (as the CPU can downclock more and more often) depends on the application, but it can be useful for 3D applications, and eventually even 2D ones, like future Qt applications with many elements, or even web browsers (when drawing complex sites).
It's good that Google is supporting Vulkan, especially after their ban of OpenCL drivers from Nexus devices. We want a single GPU compute interface across as many platforms as possible. While Vulkan isn't as complete as OpenCL, lacking some features such as unified memory, it should be more useful than OpenGL ES compute shaders.
At IDF Shenzhen, Intel talked more about 3D XPoint (spoken cross-point). Initially launched in July of last year, 3D XPoint is essentially a form of phase change memory which has speeds closer to that of DRAM.
It can be addressed at the byte level, unlike flash which transfers in pages (~8KB) and erases in blocks (~6MB). There have been a few demos since the initial launch, and this morning there was another:
It is great to see XPoint / Optane technology being demonstrated again, but as far as demos go, this was not the best / fairest example that Intel could have put together. First of all, the 'NAND SSD' they are using is a Thunderbolt 3 connected external, which was clearly bottlenecked badly somewhere else in the chain (when was the last time you saw a 6 Gbit SATA SSD limited to only 283 MB/s?). Also, using SATA for the NAND example while using PCIe x4 NVMe for the Optane example seems a bit extreme to me.
The Optane side of the demo is seen going 1.94 GB/s. That is an impressive figure for sure, but it is important to note that a faster Intel 'NAND SSD' product has already been shipping for over a year:
Yes, the P3700 (reviewed by us here), can reach the speeds seen in this demo, as evidenced by this ATTO run on one of our 1.6TB samples:
Looking at the P3700 specs, we can see that the 2TB model performs even better and would likely beat the Optane SSD used in today's demo:
Further, in the IDF 2015 demo (where they launched the Optane brand), Intel showed off Optane's random IO performance:
This demo showed 464,300 4K random IOPS, and if you do the math, that works out to 1.9 GB/s *worth of random IO*, which is far more impressive than sequentials that basically match that of the current generation NVMe product of the same form factor and interface.
I'm still happy to see these demos happen, as it means we are absolutely going to see 3D XPoint in our hands sooner than later. That said, I'd also like to see demos that better demonstrate the strengths of the technology, because if today's demo was comparing apples to apples, it would have shown a P3700 matching the speed of Optane, which does not make the previously stated 1000x speed improvement nearly as obvious as it should be presented.
Subject: Mobile | April 14, 2016 - 01:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: i7-6700HQ, BGA, gaming laptop, GTX 970M
If there wasn't a market for gaming laptops then we would not see so many companies offering them for sale, nor frequently updating their lineups. These devices certainly are not for everyone and with the release of products like MSI's Shadow and Razer's Core which allow you to hook your laptop up to an external GPU there is going to be a change in the market. For now, companies like Eurocom are updating their lineups which brings us to Techgage's review of the Monster 4 14" gaming laptop. The screen, as reviewed, is 1080p and while the laptop does have HDMI and mini-DisplayPort it lacks the TB3 connector to utilize external GPUs so you will be dependent on the i7-6700HQ and GTX 970M
"Building a gaming desktop can be tough, but building a gaming notebook can be even harder. While most vendors limit your options, Eurocom goes out of its way to provide the most customization possible. As we find out in this review, the company’s offerings are diverse, and based on our findings with the Monster 4, a notebook with professional looks can still be a beast inside."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (7568) @ TechARP
- HTC 10: Flagship goes full Google – but the hardware's top notch @ The Register
- iPhone SE @ The Inquirer
- Huawei P9 @ The Inquirer
- Doogee F7 Pro 10-Core Smartphone @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 12:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, TMX, Thrustmaster, podcast, omega, micron, Lian-Li, Intel, game ready, crimson, catalyst, bx300, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #395 - 04/14/2016
Join us this week as we discuss AMD Driver Quality, New Intel and Micron SSDs, Corsair's SPEC-ALPHA and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:08:28
Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 12:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ryan's Law, NVMe, micron
Micron has announced their own PCIe 3.0 NVMe devices today, in HHHL, M.2 and 2.5" form factors. The specifications are a little sparse at the moment, we do not know the flash which resides within the devices nor the endurance differences between the 7100 PRO series which is designed for read heavy scenarios or the 7100 MAX which is for mixed usage. In addition to the 7100 series, they also announced the 9100 series which ranges in size from 800GB up to 3.2TB and has theoretical sequential reads of 3GB/s and writes of 2GB/s. The Register was not provided with any specific pricing but Micron suggested the 7100 series could be priced similarly to SATA drives, while the 9100 series will obviously lie outside the boundaries of Ryan's Law.
"These NVMe SSDs complement Micron's existing S600DC SAS SSDs, which are now shipping in volume. The 7100 is the smaller product and the 9100 its big brother. Both have a PCIe gen 3 NVMe interface, which is faster than the 12 Gbit/s SAS interface used by the S600DC flash drives."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- DOOM Open Beta @ Steam
- Blizzard knocked over by Lizard DDoS snowstorm @ The Inquirer
- Chrome 50 marks the end of support for Windows XP, Vista and old OS X versions @ The Inquirer
- Our First Look At The STOM Spectrum i100 @ TechARP
- Facebook open-sources city-wide WiGig internet comms, phone masts @ The Register
- iOS 'date bug' can be exploited over Wi-Fi using NTP @ The Register
- Tell us about your worst data disaster to win a Macrium Reflect key @ The Tech Report
Subject: Displays | April 14, 2016 - 12:13 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Republic of Gamers, mg28uq, mg24uq, MG248Q, ASUS ROG, asus, adaptive sync
ASUS has announced three new monitors from their Republic of Gamers division, all of which feature Adaptive-Sync variable refresh rate displays.
ASUS ROG MG28UQ
The monitors include a 28-inch model (MG28UQ), and a pair of 24-inch displays (MG248Q, MG24UQ). Looking first at the MG28UQ, which is a 28-inch, UHD/4K (3840x2160) display featuring a 1ms response time. Inputs include DisplayPort (1.2), one HDMI 2.0, and two HDMI 1.4 ports.
One of the 24-inch displays, the MG24UQ, is also UHD/4K but features an IPS display (and consequently loses the 1ms response time of the 28-inch version).
ASUS ROG MG24UQ
Finally there is the 24-inch MG248Q, which offers a high 144 Hz refresh rate and 1ms response from its TN panel, but this model offers only FHD (1920x1080) resolution - though still adequate for gaming (especially at higher detail settings) depending on your preferences.
ASUS ROG MG248Q
As far as availability goes, ASUS states "ASUS MG28UQ and MG24UQ are available immediately worldwide. MG248Q will be available in April 2016", though pricing was not announced.
Subject: Storage | April 13, 2016 - 05:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sandisk, x400, tlc, M.2 SATA, 88SS1074-BSW2
SanDisk have updated their SSD lineup with the X400 family, available in sizes of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB all of which are available in 2.5" and M.2 form factors. They have continued their tradition of adding a small SLC flash cache to the drive, with the majority of storage being TLC. Inside you will find Marvell's 88SS1074-BSW2 four channel controller and 256MB of DDR3L-1600 and as you can see, a lot of extra space. SanDisk also united their SSDs lines in the 400, with 256-bit AES on these drives there is unlikely to be a new generation of the 300s. Check out KitGuru for the full performance numbers of this consumer level SSD.
"The X400 family features SanDisk’s 6th generation 15nm Triple Level Cell TLC NAND and just like the previous X300 uses SanDisk’s nCache technology where some of the NAND runs in SLC mode to bolster performance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Mushkin TRIACTOR 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- ADATA XPG SX930 240GB @ Modders-Inc
- Synology DiskStation DS716+ NAS Review @ OCC
- WD My Cloud EX4 8TB NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 01:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: creative assembly, warhammer fantasy, total war, dlc, gaming
After committing the double sin of pimping preorders and Day 1 DLC announced before the release date, The Creative Assembly seems to be trying to win back some of their fans by offering free new content for all some time down the road. There will be new Legendary Lords, magic items, quest chains, and units and towards the end of the year. If you want to play as Chaos you will still have to preorder the game or pay for it after release.
The offer of free content is appreciated, apart from one small problem; the game's release date is still over a month away. The offer of future free content seems to be a thinly veiled effort to increase the sales of preorders, since many of us have refused to take them up on their offer. Hopefully this is a hint that the industry is beginning to realize that publishing the actual game in full will draw more customers than releasing a partial game with DLC already planned.
Iceberg Interactive has a much better model, Endless Legends was released as planned and once they realized how popular the game was they put effort into adding entirely new features and races. Instead of taunting their customers with DLC announced at the same time as they released the game, they have treated it more as a reward for customer loyalty. Then again, perhaps their customers are the exception and The Creative Assembly's announcement will succeed in selling more copies of the game before the release date.
"Now, developers The Creative Assembly have released details of their post-release plans and that includes loads of free add-ons. There will be new Lords with their own quest chains, items and campaign bonuses, new magic, and, most intriguing of all, an entire new playable race."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Endless Legend Launches New Expansion, Holds Sale @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Death, Despair And Lovely Cutscenes: The Banner Saga 2 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Titanfall 2 teaser trailer published by Respawn Entertainment @ HEXUS
- Hitman Review @ OCC
- Burly Men At Sea Offers Hyperstylised Folktales @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Everybody's Gone to the Rapture arrives on PC/Steam tomorrow @ HEXUS
- Wot I Think: Baldur’s Gate: Siege Of Dragonspear @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Dark Souls 3 review @ Polygon
Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 12:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb type-c
The USB Implementers Forum, in charge of developing the standards for USB interfaces have developed software which can confirm the authenticity of a USB device or USB charger before allowing power to pass over the connection. This is intended to prevent the death of another Pixel, or any other device which might charge over a Type C connection thanks to a dodgy cable. It is not yet released but was written with the intention enabling it to be distributed as a patch to your OS as it was designed with a proper signature and certificate to ensure it is not easy to tamper with. The Register has more on this story as well as information on Google's WebUSB protocol which will allow a connected USB device to communicate with connected networks.
"The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has announced the "USB Type-C Authentication specification", a set of software-defined rules that a device can use to protect itself from potential sizzlage."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The Battle Between LTE and Wi-Fi May Have Left LTE-U Out In the Cold @ Slashdot
- Best smartphones 2016: iPhone SE, Huawei P9, Galaxy S7 Edge and more @ The Inquirer
- Security researcher to IBM: 'Fix that 2013 Java bug' @ The Register
- Security is the biggest bug of open source, says Linux Foundation CTO @ The Inquirer
- Our First Look At The STOM PC Stick @ TechARP
- How to not get pwned on Windows: Don't run any virtual machines, open any web pages, Office docs, hyperlinks ... @ The Register
- Linux Kernel 4.5 Gets Its First Point Release, Receives Hundreds of Improvements @ Linux.com
Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 12:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sony, remote play, PSN, ps4, playstation 4, game streaming
Sony is rolling out a new firmware update for its PlayStation 4 gaming console. The 3.50 firmware update adds social networking features to schedule events and allow users to appear offline along with a major change that opens up Remote Play to allow game streaming from the PS4 to Macs and Windows PCs.
Users should start receiving the console update shortly. In order to stream to PCs, users will need to download the Remote Play utility for Windows or OS X. PC system requirements are modest requiring a minimum of a dual core (4 thread) Intel Core i5 560M (2.67 GHz) and 2GB of RAM when running Windows. Mac users can get by with an even lower end i5 520M (2.4 GHz). Users will need to be running the 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows (8.1 or 10) or Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite or newer.
Sony recommends having a bare minimum of a 5Mbps symmetrical broadband internet connection in order to stream games to remote devices, and it recommends a connection with at least 12 Mbps download and upload speeds for the best results. Unfortunately, this rules out most DSL users, though they should still be able to play locally over their LAN. (It is not clear whether you can direct connect to the console to stream or if you have to go through a Sony server to stream, other remote play devices seem to be able to work only off of the LAN connection though so it should work.)
Sony makes it easy to play your games by supporting the DualShock 4 controller – users will simply need to plug it into the PC via USB cable and it will work as expected on PlayStation games. You will also need a Sony Entertainment Network account to pair devices and it is recommended to set the desired PS4 as your primary account. Specific setup instructions can be found here.
Streaming capabilities are currently limited as there is no support for streaming at 1080p resolution. Out of the box, Remote Play will stream at 540p and 30 FPS (frames per second). Users (preferably with wired devices including the PS4) can go into the settings and max it out at 720p and 60 FPS or dial it all the way down to 360p if you really need to play remotely over the internet with a small upload pipe.
Sony notes that not all games support Remote Play, but it seems like the majority of the console's catalog of games do.
There are several YouTube videos of users testing out Remote Play, and it does work. It seems to be a bit behind Xbox One streaming in the video quality and usability departments (e.g. no 1080p and you can't change resolution and frame rate on the fly). Hopefully Sony continues to flesh out the application and features.
Have you had a chance to try PS4 to PC game streaming? I'm now waiting for Microsoft to allow PC to Xbox One streaming hehe.
Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2016 - 02:33 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Thrustmaster, TMX, T300, tx f458, force feedback, wheels, racing pedals, DiRT Rally, project cars, Assetto Corsa, xbox one
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 12, 2016 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, 980 Ti, GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum, DirectCU II
The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum comes with a mix of features including a memory defroster, as this card is designed with LN2 cooling in mind so we may see it appear in some of this years overclocking contests. It uses the older dual-fan DirectCU II, not the newer CU III version but the cards still remained around 60C under full load when [H]ard|OCP tested them. The one-press VBIOS reload is perfect if you run into issues overclocking, and this card will overclock as [H] hit 1266MHz Base/1367MHz Boost/1503MHz In-Game with VRAM at 8.2GHz. That overclocking potential as well as an asking price currently under MSRP helped this card win the Gold, see it surpass the MSI Lightning in the full review.
"Today we review the ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum, a gaming enthusiast centered video card which boasts enthusiast air cooling and an enthusiast overclock on air cooling. This high-end video card features DirectCU II cooling, making it the perfect comparison to the MSI GTX 980 TI LIGHTNING in class, price, performance and cooling."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte GTX 980 Ti XtremeGaming 6GB @ techPowerUp
- ASUS Radeon R9 Fury STRIX Graphics Card Review @ NikKTech
- AMD VR Performance featuring Sapphire @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2016 - 12:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lenovo, apple, asus, market share, doom
That rustling you hear outside your door is the press getting ready to once again predict the impending doom of the PC industry, ready with bon mots describing how the world, including statisticians, engineers and animation creators will be using tablets for their work from now on. As is always the case, these doomsayers are vastly overstating their case, though this is not to say there are some hurdles facing the PC industry as a whole.
Windows 10 has failed to drive consumers to update their hardware, for a variety of reasons obvious to everyone but Gartner, IDC and Microsoft's marketing team. Intel's latest offerings have not provided a solid reason for enthusiasts to upgrade their machines and AMD is worryingly quiet lately. This has lead to a fall in sales compared to this time last year of between 9.6-11.5% depending on which of the two sources The Inquirer quoted you choose to believe is more accurate.
Apple and ASUS are the only two companies showing growth and a 1% increase is nothing you should brag about, even if you are beating the competition. Even Lenovo is seeing their sales shrink, to the tune of roughly 10%. There is new hardware slated to arrive soon and the falling price of M.2 and PCIe SSDs may provide some impetus for enthusiasts to pick up a new motherboard at the very least, so hopefully we will see this trend begin to reverse itself before the end of the year.
"Gartner's report said that PC shipments reached 64.8 million units in the first quarter of 2016, while IDC offered the more pessimistic figure of 60.6 million. This represents a decline of 9.6 per cent or 11.5 percent, depending on which figure you go on."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tesla Recalls 2,700 Model X Cars, Highlighting Risk of Massive Model 3 Rollout @ Slashdot
- Come in Microsoft SQL Server 2005, your time is up @ The Inquirer
- Windows 10 debuts Blue QR Code of Death – and why malware will love it @ The Register
- HTC 10 vs Galaxy S7 specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- You keep using that word – NVMe. Does it mean what I think it means? @ The Register
- Infected with Petya ransomware? This tool will rescue your data @ The Register
Subject: Storage | April 12, 2016 - 11:30 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vmware, ssd, S600DC, S3100, P3520, P3320, Nexenta, micron, Intel, D3700, D3600, Ceph, 9100, 7100, 5410s, 540s, 5400s
There has been a lot of recent shuffling about in the world of enterprise storage. I’m writing up this post from a Micron product launch event in Austin, Texas. Today they are launching a round of enterprise SSD products. These lines cover the full storage gamut from M.2 to U.2 to HHHL. While prior Micron SSDs were bottlenecked by AHCI and PCIe 2.0, these new lines are using Marvell controllers and are capable of PCIe 3.0 x4 speeds (plus NVMe).
The workhorse of the lineup is the 9100, which will be available in HHHL and U.2 2.5” 15mm form factors.
Micron is not the only company pushing further into this space. Less than two weeks ago, Intel ran their ‘Cloud Day’ event, where they launched a new Xeon CPU and a plethora of new SSDs, some of which were based on IMFT 3D NAND tech (SSD DC P3320). Intel also launched the client 540s and business 5400s product lines, which are based on Silicon Motion SM2256 controllers driving SK Hynix hybrid (SLC+TLC) flash. While these controllers and flash are coming from external sources, they must still pass Intel’s rigorous qualification and compatibility validation testing, so failure rates should be kept to a minimum.
Another aspect of this Micron launch day is their push into the production of not only SSDs, but all-flash storage devices. Dubbed ‘Micron Accelerated Solutions’, these are devices built, serviced, and supported by Micron. They naturally contain Micron SSDs, but also draw on other vendors like Supermicro and Nexenta. The products range from VMware SANs, to Ceph solutions capable of 1 million IOPS and 140 Gbps, to software-defined storage. I’ll be sitting through briefings and asking questions about these products when this post is set to go live, and I will update this space with any additional juicy tidbits once we wrap up for the day.
Apparently we are going to see consumer IMFT 3D TLC NAND *this month* in the form of a Crucial MX300!
...and in a couple of months we will see Crucial M.2 PCIe SSDs:
There was also some discussion on XPoint (spoken 'cross point') and where Micron sees this new storage being implemented. Expected to see scaled production in 2017 and 2018, XPoint is non-volatile (like flash) but extremely fast (like DRAM). There was not much said beyond generalities, but they did have a wafer, and you know I love die shots:
I was not permitted to get a better die shot of the wafer at this event, as the Micron rep specifically requested that journalists only use photos that were shot from stage distance. Fortunately, this was not the only event where I have photographed a XPoint wafer. Here is a photo I caught at a prior event:
Here is a quick breakdown of the products launched by both Intel and Micron over the last two weeks:
- SSD DC P3520 and P3320
- First SSDs to use 256Gbit/die 32-layer IMFT 3D NAND.
- PCIe 3.0 x4 HHHL and 2.5” U.2
- SSD DC D3700 and D3600
- PCIe 3.0 x4 2.5” U.2 dual-port design.
- Dual-port means two hosts can access a single SSD through the use of a special backplane that merges the PCIe lanes from two separate systems into a single U.2 connector. This is a move for increased redundancy, as one system can fail and the same flash storage will still be available to the failover system.
- PCIe 3.0 x4 2.5” U.2 dual-port design.
- SSD DC S3100
- SATA 2.5” SLC+TLC hybrid for enterprise
- Intended for boot OS / caching / index storage duties
- SATA 2.5” SLC+TLC hybrid for enterprise
- SSD 540s and Pro 5400s
- Silicon Motion SM2256 + SK Hynix SLC+TLC hybrid flash
- Pro 5200s adds Intel vPro / OPAL 2.0 and Microsoft eDrive support
- SSD E 5400s and E 5410s
- Silicon Motion SM2256 + SK Hynix flash
- Small capacity M.2 2280 and 2.5” SATA
- 9100 PCIe SSD
- PCIe 3.0 x4 HHHL and 2.5” U.2 15mm
- Up to 3.2TB capacity
- 7100 PCIe SSD
- PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 22110 and 2.5” U.2 7mm
- SAS 2.5”
- Micron Accelerated Solutions
That’s a whole lot of flash related product launches in a very short period of time. I’m excited to see large pushes into the enterprise because that means we will see this tech trickle down to consumers and power users that much sooner!
The Micron NVMe press release was a bit light on details, so I’ve included their Accelerated Solutions release after the break.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 11, 2016 - 02:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Pacific RL24, thermaltake, watercooler
As you can see from the image, the Thermaltake Pacific RL240 Water Cooling Kit comes with some assembly required, it is not an AiO cooler. Since it is a full kit it will cost you much more than a self contained cooling apparatus, at $284 on both Amazon and Newegg many users will not be interested in installing this cooler. For those that are still curious, one of the benefits of the kit is that it contains everything you need, including the waterblock, reservoir and pump as well as the radiator and even coolant. Unfortunately [H]ard|OCP's testing revealed the performance to be moderate at best, so the price premium is hard to justify, as you can see in the full review.
"In a world now filled with All-In-One CPU coolers, Thermaltake takes it old school with a water cooling kit that has everything you need from A to Z. If cutting your hose to length and perfecting the layout and presentation of your cooling loop appeals to you, Thermaltake makes it easy with a one stop shop."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Gelid Antarctica Ultra-Quiet Tower @ eTeknix
- Rosewill B2 Spirit HPTX Full-Tower @ eTeknix
- Cooltek Jonsbo RM1 ATX Mini Tower Review @ NikKTech
- Noctua NH-D15S @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2016 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Android, blackberry, Priv
Blackberry has abandoned the Priv, calling it somewhat of an expensive mistake not only because of the investment costs but also because it was priced well above what consumers are willing to pay for a phone. They will be developing a new Android device which is intended to sell at $400, in line with the competitions prices. This also seems to imply that the BB10 OS will no longer be actively developed at Blackberry although they have not stated that for the record. They also haven't disclosed how many Priv's were sold but considering what they told The Register and others it is likely to be well below what they had hoped. They aren't dead yet but they are certainly low on health.
"BlackBerry's CEO has used an interview with United Arab Emirates outlet The National to announce plans to move the troubled mobe-maker's Android efforts downscale."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Build Your Own GSM Base Station For Fun And Profit @ Hack a Day
- The Performance Of Ubuntu Software Running On Windows 10 With The New Linux Subsystem @ Phoronix
- What did the one Toshiba desktop SSD say to the other? Our cell size has shrunk @ The Register
- Sandberg USB Master Charger Pro Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 11, 2016 - 11:23 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: rtg, radeon technologies group, radeon, driver, crimson, amd
For longer than AMD would like to admit, Radeon drivers and software were often criticized for plaguing issues on performance, stability and features. As the graphics card market evolved and software became a critical part of the equation, that deficit affected AMD substantially.
In fact, despite the advantages that modern AMD Radeon parts typically have over GeForce options in terms of pure frame rate for your dollar, I recommended an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 980 and 980 Ti for our three different VR Build Guides last month ($900, $1500, $2500) in large part due to confidence in NVIDIA’s driver team to continue delivering updated drivers to provide excellent experiences for gamers.
But back in September of 2015 we started to see changes inside AMD. There was drastic reorganization of the company and those people in charge. AMD setup the Radeon Technologies Group, a new entity inside the organization that would have complete control over the graphics hardware and software directions. And it put one of the most respected people in the industry at its helm: Raja Koduri. On November 24th AMD launched Radeon Software Crimson, a totally new branding, style and implementation to control your Radeon GPU. I talked about it at the time, but the upgrade was noticeable; everything was faster, easier to find and…pretty.
Since then, AMD has rolled out several new drivers with key feature additions, improvements and of course, game performance increases. Thus far in 2016 the Radeon Technologies Group has released 7 new drivers, three of which have been WHQL certified. That is 100% more than they had during this same time last year when AMD released zero WHQL drivers and a big increase over the 1 TOTAL driver AMD released in Q1 of 2015.
Maybe most important of all, the team at Radeon Technologies Group claims to be putting a new emphasis on “day one” support for major PC titles. If implemented correctly, this gives enthusiasts and PC gamers that want to stay on the cutting edge of releases the ability to play optimized titles on the day of release. Getting updated drivers that fix bugs and improve performance weeks or months after release is great, but for gamers that may already be done with that game, the updates are worthless. AMD was guilty of this practice for years, having driver updates that would fix performance issues on Radeon hardware for reviewer testing but that missed the majority of the play time of early adopting consumers.
Thus far, AMD has only just started down this path. Newer games like Far Cry Primal, The Division, Hitman and Ashes of the Singularity all had drivers from AMD on or before release with performance improvements, CrossFire profiles or both. A few others were CLOSE to day one ready including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Plants vs Zombies 2 and Gears of War Ultimate Edition.
|Game||Release Date||First Driver Mention||Driver Date||Feature / Support|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||01-28-2016||16.1.1||02-05-2016||Performance and CrossFire Profile|
|Plants vs Zombies 2||02-23-2016||16.2.1||03-01-2016||Performance|
|Gears Ultimate Edition||03-01-2016||16.3||03-10-2016||Performance|
|Far Cry Primal||03-01-2016||16.2.1||03-01-2016||CrossFire Profile|
|The Division||03-08-2016||16.1||02-25-2016||CrossFire Profile|
|Hitman||03-11-2016||16.3||03-10-2016||Performance, CrossFire Profile|
|Need for Speed||03-15-2016||16.3.1||03-18-2016||Performance, CrossFire Profile|
|Ashes of the Singularity||03-31-2016||16.2||02-25-2016||Performance|
AMD claims that the push for this “day one” experience will continue going forward, pointing at a 35% boost in performance in Quantum Break between Radeon Crimson 16.3.2 and 16.4.1. There will be plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks and months to test AMD (and NVIDIA) on this “day one” focus with PC titles that will have support for DX12, UWP and VR.
The software team at RTG has also added quite a few interesting features since the release of the first Radeon Crimson driver. Support for the Vulkan API and a DX12 capability called Quick Response Queue, along with new additions to the Radeon settings (Per-game display scaling, CrossFire status indicator, power efficiency toggle, etc.) are just a few.
Critical for consumers that were buying into VR, the Radeon Crimson drivers launched with support alongside the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Both of these new virtual reality systems are putting significant strain on the GPU of modern PCs and properly implementing support for techniques like timewarp is crucial to enabling a good user experience. Though Oculus and HTC / Valve were using NVIDIA based systems more or less exclusively during our time at the Game Developers Summit last month, AMD still has approved platforms and software from both vendors. In fact, in a recent change to the HTC Vive minimum specifications, Valve retroactively added the Radeon R9 280 to the list, giving a slight edge in component pricing to AMD.
AMD was also the first to enable full support for external graphics solutions like the Razer Core external enclosure in its drivers with XConnect. We wrote about that release in early March, and I’m eager to get my hands on a product combo to give it a shot. As of this writing and after talking with Razer, NVIDIA had still not fully implemented external GPU functionality for hot/live device removal.
When looking for some acceptance metric, AMD did point us to a survey they ran to measure the approval and satisfaction of Crimson. After 1700+ submission, the score customers gave them was a 4.4 out of 5.0 - pretty significant praise even coming from AMD customers. We don't exactly how the poll was run or in what location it was posted, but the Crimson driver release has definitely improved the perception that Radeon drivers have with many enthusiasts.
I’m not going to sit here and try to impart on everyone that AMD is absolved of past sins and we should immediately be converted into believers. What I can say is that the Radeon Technologies Group is moving in the right direction, down a path that shows a change in leadership and a change in mindset. I talked in September about the respect I had for Raja Koduri and interviewed him after AMD’s Capsaicin event at GDC; you can already start to see the changes he is making inside this division. He has put a priority on software, not just on making it look pretty, but promising to make good on proper multi-GPU support, improved timeliness of releases and innovative features. AMD and RTG still have a ways to go before they can unwind years of negativity, but the ground work is there.
The company and every team member has a sizeable task ahead of them as we approach the summer. The Radeon Technologies Group will depend on the Polaris architecture and its products to swing back the pendulum against NVIDIA, gaining market share, mind share and respect. From what we have seen, Polaris looks impressive and differentiates from Hawaii and Fiji fairly dramatically. But this product was already well baked before Raja got total control and we might have to see another generation pass before the portfolio of GPUs can change around the institution. NVIDIA isn’t sitting idle and the Pascal architecture also promises improved performance, while leaning on the work and investment in software and drivers that have gotten them to the dominant market leader position they are in today.
I’m looking forward to working with AMD throughout 2016 on what promises to be an exciting and market-shifting time period.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 10, 2016 - 09:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, vulkan, graphics drivers
This is not a main-line, WHQL driver. This is not even a mainstream beta driver. The beta GeForce 364.91 drivers (364.16 on Linux) are only available on the NVIDIA developer website, which, yes, is publicly accessible, but should probably not be installed unless you are intending to write software and every day counts. Also, some who have installed it claim that certain Vulkan demos stop working. I'm not sure whether that means the demo is out-of-date due to a rare conformance ambiguity, the driver has bugs, or the reports themselves are simply unreliable.
That said, if you are a software developer, and you don't mind rolling back if things go awry, you can check out the new version at NVIDIA's website. It updates Vulkan to 1.0.8, which is just documentation bugs and conformance tweaks. These things happen over time. In fact, the initial Vulkan release was actually Vulkan 1.0.3, if I remember correctly.
The driver also addresses issues with Vulkan and NVIDIA Optimus technologies, which is interesting. Optimus controls which GPU acts as primary in a laptop, switching between the discrete NVIDIA one and the Intel integrated one, depending on load and power. Vulkan and DirectX 12, however, expose all GPUs to the system. I'm curious how NVIDIA knows whether to sleep one or the other, and what that would look like to software that enumerates all compatible devices. Would it omit listing one of the GPUs? Or would it allow the software to wake the system out of Optimus should it want more performance?
Anywho, the driver is available now, but you probably should wait for official releases. The interesting thing is this seems to mean that NVIDIA will continue to release non-public Vulkan drivers. Hmm.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 8, 2016 - 07:23 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFX-L, SFX, PSU, power supply, Lian Li
Lian Li has (rather unexpectedly) announced a pair of SFX-L power supplies, with the PE-550 and PE-750 small form-factor PSUs.
Lian Li PE-750 SFX-L power supply
SFX-L is the slightly longer (hence the "L") version of SFX, and permits more powerful designs and larger, quieter fans than standard SFX. Of the two new models from Lian Li the PE-550 is an 80 Plus Gold PSU rated at 550W, and the PE-750 is an 80 Plus Platinum model boasting a whopping 750W from this tiny form-factor.
Lian Li has doubtless contracted the manufacture of these PSUs, as the post on SFF Network has concluded: "The 550W at least is from Enhance according to the UL number and the possibly the 750W based on the heatsink design."
Lian Li PE-550 SFX-L power supply
The 750W model now bests SilverStone in the SFX power category, eclipsing their 700W SFX-L model shown at CES this year (and which is still not listed on their site). Just why anyone would need 750W for what would presumably be a mini-ITX system (limited as mITX motherboards are, with only one PCI Express x16 slot); but the benefits of SFX are certainly appreciated the moment one begins working inside of an enclosure such as the NCASE M1.
The PSUs are fully modular with flat, ribbon style cables (PE-750 pictured)